Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Power of Presence

Few things communicate love quite like spending time together.

Copyright: weerapat / 123RF Stock Photo
In the New Testament, the followers of Jesus are commanded to visit those in prison (See Matthew 25:36-40; Hebrews 13:3). The concern for prisoners likely stemmed from the fact that believers often found themselves in prison. Peter, John, Paul, and Silas all spent time behind bars. It was also because Christianity is at its best, a ministry of presence. God made his love known to us by becoming present with us in the person of Jesus Christ. We make God’s love known by being present in the lives of others. This is especially true when we are present with those who find themselves in times of great need.

Just this past weekend, the adult choir spent the weekend ministering to inmates in one of the correctional facilities in Gatesville, Texas. Everyone I’ve talked to who went on the trip has gone on and on about how God moved during this trip. Both the inmates and the choir discovered God’s presence as they spent time being present in one another’s life. This is how God often works. He shows up among us when we show up in each other’s lives.

In our church, there are those who regularly visit those in prison through a jail ministry here in town. I want to take the time to thank these volunteers for their faithfulness. These men and women go weekly to the Tom Green County jail and lead Bible studies for the inmates. Tonight, Pastor Matt will go and baptize fifteen inmates who have recently accepted Christ. Matt knows that he is reaping the fruit, but it's these faithful men and women who sowed the seeds by being present in the lives of others over the long hall. They’re living testimonies to the power of being present in another person’s life.

You don’t have to be a prisoner to know the importance of love made known in presence. I am grateful for those who have made God’s love known to me by being present in my life. I think of the director if the Baptist Student Ministry, the late Bob Mayfield. Bob wasn’t flashy. He wasn’t cool. He wasn't young. He was present in my life. We’d regularly spend time together just to spend time together. Even though Bob had been in ministry for decades at that point, he treated me like an equal. He’d ask my opinion about things and then took the time to listen to my answer. Years later I’ve forgotten almost all the cool conference speakers and preachers I heard during my college years, but I’ll never forget Bob. Love, made tangible through being present in each other’s life, leaves an imprint that’s not easily forgotten.

I wonder, who are the people whose presence left an imprint of love on your life? On whose life is your presence leaving a similar imprint of love?

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Additional thoughts:


  • Show Up by Jill Phillips. Alyson and I enjoy Jill’s music. This song reminds us “If you want to change the world, all you got to do is show up.”
  • Sitting with Suffering by Richard J. Foster. We know that true love weeps with those who weep. Still, being present with those who are suffering challenges the best of us. What do we say to those who are hurting? What do we not say? Richard Foster has some helpful suggestions on the Renovar√© blog.


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